(b) The umpire's third strike is not caught if (1) first base is empty or (2) first base is occupied with two outs... The dropped third strike is an odd rule. Three strikes and you're out appears to be a fundamental rule of baseball, but there is an interesting exception. If you look at most baseball rules books, you will not find any reference to "dropped 3rd strikes". Instead, they refer to "untimely passes" or simply "passes". It is assumed that the batter cannot continue batting after three strikes; instead, he must take another turn at the plate.
The rule was introduced in 1999 by the Major League Baseball (MLB) Joint Oversight Committee. The purpose of this rule change was to reduce intentional walk totals to avoid having too many men on base at once. Before this rule change, batters could work the count full before the pitcher was allowed to remove them from the game. With three strikes, the batter cannot continue to hit unless the ball is put in play. If the batter does reach base, it is usually due for a fielder's choice attempt or a double play. However, if the batter reaches base during this period, then the inning continues into its next stage.
This rule applies only when the batter does not take any further swings at the ball after the third strike is called. If the batter does take more swings at the ball, then it is a legal pitch and the batter is out.
The batter becomes a runner if the catcher fails to catch the ball on a third strike and first base is open or there are two outs. If the catcher misses the tag, the umpire should call "Runner on second."
This exception was created in 1969 by the Major League Baseball (MLB) owners who wanted to allow more offensive opportunities. Before this change, runners could only advance one base on balls hit during their turn at the plate. Now they can advance multiple bases if the pitcher allows them to do so.
In addition to creating a loophole, using the dropped third strike also has its disadvantages. For example, if the batter reaches first base before the catcher can get back to the throw, they have lost a potential double play chance. Also, if the batter hits into a force out situation at any time during their turn at the plate, they will usually be awarded a base on balls due to the fact that they had already reached first base by the time the catcher got the ball back from the pitcher.
Some people believe that using the dropped third strike is unfair because it gives batters too many opportunities to continue playing the game. However, this change was approved by the owners and cannot be reversed.
If the batter strikes out, he is automatically out unless the catcher neatly holds onto the ball or the ball touches the dirt. If the catcher fails to catch the third strike, the hitter may attempt to steal first base if it is open or there are two outs. However, if an error occurs before the batter reaches first base, then he is awarded with no base award even if he tries to advance.
It is a foul ball if the bat and ball come into contact with each other for the second time while the hitter is gripping the bat in the batter's box. The catcher catches a third strike; or the third strike is not caught with first base occupied and less than two outs (2-16-2); or if it is caught by an infielder.
A third strike is thrown when the pitcher wants to record a double play and there are no runners on base. If a third strike is caught by the catcher, he will signal the umpire who will call "foul" and end the inning. Otherwise, the batter would be awarded another plate appearance which could result in further damage to the defense's chance of winning the game.
In addition to being called a foul ball, the third strike can also be called because:
1 The batter fails to keep his hands inside the batter's box.
2 The batter fails to make proper contact with the ball when throwing it toward home plate. This includes not only missing the ball but also touching it anywhere else with your hand or body part before throwing it to an infielder.
3 The batter swings at a pitch outside of the strike zone.
4 The catcher drops the ball without having a good grip on it.
Third strikes were bundled in with foul balls in that catchers may still catch the ball on one bounce for an out, despite being deemed a "fair" ball. Third strikes, on the other hand, were comparable to fair balls in that the runner might advance if the ball went uncaught. In other words, the regulations made no logical sense.
If the batter is out on strike three and the ball gets to the screen, an interesting play may occur. The batter-runner (let's suppose he's right-handed) backs up many steps and ends up on the grass outside the dirt circle while the runner on third base races towards home.
A strikeout happens when a pitcher strikes a batter with any combination of three swinging or looking strikes. (A foul ball qualifies as a strike, but it cannot be the third and final strike of the at-bat.) A foul tip collected by the catcher is regarded as a third strike. A batter who reaches base on an error or passed ball is out.
There are two types of pitches in baseball: fastballs and curves. On a fastball, the batter has no chance to get out of the way because it comes straight toward him at 95 miles per hour (150 kph). On a curveball, the ball starts off straight but then twists as it approaches the plate, causing the pitch to miss the target area. Changeups are similar to curves in that they start out straight but then twist as they approach the plate, so they can cause either damage if thrown correctly or frustration if not.
Pitchers use various techniques to try to defeat batters. Some throw fastballs down and away from left-handed hitters to get them to chase outside the zone. Others will throw the pitch right over the top of the plate to get the hitter to swing at anything in order to produce a base knock. Still others will vary the speed, location, and path of the pitch in order to confuse the batter.
Batters need time to set up their swings, so pitchers must keep them off balance by changing speeds or throwing different pitches.